How neat to view the aurora from above! (NASA)
“From the Oval Office the other night, President Obama called the leak in the Gulf of Mexico “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.”
…The motive seems clear. The words signal sympathy for the people of the Gulf Coast, an acknowledgment of the magnitude of their struggle. And if this is really the worst environmental disaster, the wording seems to suggest, maybe people need to cut the government some slack for failing to get it under control right away.
But is the description accurate?
Scholars of environmental history, while expressing sympathy for the people of the gulf, say the assertion is debatable…” (New York Times )
Uncanny ability to “heal by association.” (thanks, Barbara)
“Over-the-counter headache pill paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, reduces the pain of social rejection according to a new study just published in Psychological Science.
Based on past findings of an overlap between the brain circuits involved in physical pain and those involved in feeling rejected, the researchers wondered whether painkillers would also ease emotional distress stemming from exclusion.” (Mind Hacks)
Joe Linus Barton (R.-TX)
…[W]hen a congressmen demands proper English be the language of the land, and then destroys that language in front of an Englishman — I must apologize for me, myself, or I to my mom and dad; I’m sorry.” [read the entire piece] (NPR).
“If you use standard tap water in your windshield washer fluid reservoir instead of a cleaner, you may have effectively turned your vehicle into a biological weapon. Sure, that sounds cool and all, but according to BBC News, the only person you’re going to be hurting is yourself. As it turns out, using plain water can cause the washer fluid system to become a breeding ground for Legionella bacterium – the same nastiness that causes Legionaires’ Disease and pneumonia. Spray your windshield and the bacteria becomes airborne, allowing it to easily enter your lungs and wreak havoc with your immune system.
Researchers discovered the hive of scum and villainy lurking under the hood by attempting to discern why professional drivers were five times more likely to become ill than their amateur counterparts. After a little scientific sleuthing, the lab coats unearthed the bacteria. So do the world a favor and top off your windshield washer fluid reservoir with some sort of purpose-built cleaner. The stuff will kill the infection-causing bacteria and will keep the fluid from freezing in the winter. Not bad for 99 cents a gallon.” (Autoblog).
- Celebrate Bloomsday with graphic Ulysses (guardian.co.uk)
- Happy Bloomsday – Austinist [del.icio.us] (austinist.com)
- Bloomsday 2010: ‘Ulysses’ Celebrated Around The World (PHOTOS, POLL) (huffingtonpost.com)
- A happy Bloomsday for creators of “Ulysses” comic (hermenaut.org)
Connections are being drawn between animal abuse and other kinds of violence (New York Times Magazine)
“Americans, I have some bad news for you: You have the worst quality of life in the developed world – by a wide margin. If you had any idea of how people really lived in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and many parts of Asia, you’d be rioting in the streets calling for a better life. In fact, the average Australian or Singaporean taxi driver has a much better standard of living than the typical American white-collar worker.
I know this because I am an American, and I escaped from the prison you call home.” (Escape From America Magazine)
Clues to consciousness in nonmammals: “Many people (some scientists among them) would like to believe that consciousness sets the human mind apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. But whether in humans or other creatures, behavioral signs of cognizance all arise from the tangled interactions of neurons in the brain. So a growing number of scientists contend that animals with brain structures and neural circuitry similar to humans’ might experience something like human awareness, even if a bit less sophisticated.” (Science News)
- Debunking the Big Brain Myth (geeksaresexy.net)
- Signature of consciousness captured in brain scans (biosingularity.wordpress.com)
- Man Actually Conscious Throughout Two Decades of “Coma” (neatorama.com)
- Terri’s Press Release: Doctors Misdiagnose Patient Thought to be in 23 Year “Persistent Vegetative State” (deaconforlife.blogspot.com)
A new book claims that the Hiroshima bomb was ‘a dud’, its destructive power cut in half by an accident that occurred while arming it. But it appears the author was duped by relying on an ‘eyewitness’ who wasn’t even there. (New York Times ).
‘Physicians group alleges US conducted illegal research on detainees. Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) today released evidence it says indicates that the Bush administration conducted “illegal and unethical human experimentation and research” on detainees’ response to torture while in CIA custody after 9/11. The group says such illegal activity would violate the Nuremburg Code, and could open the door to prosecutions. Their report is based on publicly available documents, and explores the participation of medical professionals in the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program.” Download the full report at phrtorturepapers.org. Boing Boing spoke with the lead medical author of the report, Dr. Scott Allen, who is co-director of the Center For Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Brown University, and Medical Advisor to PHR.’ (Boing Boing)
Michael Chabon: “Now, with the memory of the Mavi Marmara fresh in our minds, is the time for Jews to confront, at long last, the eternal truth of our stupidity as a people, which I will stack, blunder for blunder, against that of any other nation now or at any time living on this planet of folly…” (New York Times op-ed)
“Children with autism have a different chemical fingerprint in their urine than non-autistic children, according to new research published tomorrow in the print edition of the Journal of Proteome Research.
The researchers behind the study, from Imperial College London and the University of South Australia, suggest that their findings could ultimately lead to a simple urine test to determine whether or not a young child has autism.
Autism affects an estimated one in every 100 people in the UK. People with autism have a range of different symptoms, but they commonly experience problems with communication and social skills, such as understanding other people’s emotions and making conversation and eye contact.
People with autism are also known to suffer from gastrointestinal disorders and they have a different makeup of bacteria in their guts from non-autistic people… The distinctive urinary metabolic fingerprint for autism identified in today’s study could form the basis of a non-invasive test that might help diagnose autism earlier. This would enable autistic children to receive assistance, such as advanced behavioural therapy, earlier in their development than is currently possible.
At present, children are assessed for autism through a lengthy process involving a range of tests that explore the child’s social interaction, communication and imaginative skills.
Early intervention can greatly improve the progress of children with autism but it is currently difficult to establish a firm diagnosis when children are under 18 months of age, although it is likely that changes may occur much earlier than this.
The researchers suggest that their new understanding of the makeup of bacteria in autistic children’s guts could also help scientists to develop treatments to tackle autistic people’s gastrointestinal problems.” (Science Blog)
A Comparison of Magnitudes: ‘Some reports in the media attempt to downplay the significance of the release of oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident by arguing that natural oil seeps release large volumes of oil to the ocean, so why worry? Lets look at the numbers.’ (The Oil Drum via /.)
‘Talk about an oxymoron: A snail on speed. No, researchers weren’t trying to make the gastropods slide faster—they were trying to improve their memories.’ (ScienceNOW)
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, believes that eco-catastrophists are wrong about humans and our impact on the planet. (spiked) Do you find this argument believable? I think that arguing from precedent that we can be sanguine about global warming is a straw man argument. Spiked‘s ‘don’t worry be happy’ polemics are tiresomely undiscriminating.
Criticizing “the racism of the anti-racists”: Do self-hating Western intellectuals grovel to those who berate the West while attacking Islamic dissidents who embraces its values? (New York Times )
‘Two years before Ellington died, in 1972, Yale University held a gathering of leading black jazz musicians in order to raise money for a department of African-American music. Aside from Ellington, the musicians who came for three days of concerts, jam sessions, and workshops included Eubie Blake, Noble Sissle, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Max Roach, Mary Lou Williams, and Willie (the Lion) Smith. During a performance by a Gillespie-led sextet, someone evidently unhappy with this presence on campus called in a bomb threat. The police attempted to clear the building, but Mingus refused to leave, urging the officers to get all the others out but adamantly remaining onstage with his bass. “Racism planted that bomb, but racism ain’t strong enough to kill this music,” he was heard telling the police captain. (And very few people successfully argued with Mingus.) “If I’m going to die, I’m ready. But I’m going out playing ‘Sophisticated Lady.’ ” Once outside, Gillespie and his group set up again. But coming from inside was the sound of Mingus intently playing Ellington’s dreamy thirties hit, which, that day, became a protest song, as the performance just kept going on and on and getting hotter. In the street, Ellington stood in the waiting crowd just beyond the theatre’s open doors, smiling.’ (The New Yorker)
‘…[A]s evidence of the [placebo] effect’s power mounts, members of the medical community are increasingly asking an intriguing question: if the placebo effect can help patients, shouldn’t we start putting it to work? In certain ways, placebos are ideal drugs: they typically have no side effects and are essentially free. And in recent years, research has confirmed that they can bring about genuine improvements in a number of conditions. An active conversation is now under way in leading medical journals, as bioethicists and researchers explore how to give people the real benefits of pretend treatment.’ (Boston Globe)
- What Do You Expect From Your Pharmacy? (sciencebasedmedicine.org)
- Placebo isn’t a dirty word (boingboing.net)
- The Nothing Cure: Taking the placebo effect seriously (ctv.ca)
- Magic Has Increased By 20% (lockergnome.com)
- Acupuncture for mice (nature.com)
- The Uses of Medicinal Plants by Chinese Herbalists (herbalmedicine.suite101.com)
- Stop funding homeopathy, MPs urge (guardian.co.uk)
A young psycholinguist confesses her strong attraction to pronouns. (The American Scholar)
- Impossible Happiness, an elegy for Peter Orlovsky by Steve Silberman (boingboing.net)
- Peter Orlovsky, Beat Muse (and Dennis Hopper) (litkicks.com)